Joanna A. van der Vant has several decades of experience in accounting and real estate spanning the globe. Formerly, Joanna A. van der Vant served as vice president of the Warsaw Association of Realtors in Poland, where she helped start a multiple listing service. Today, she is an accountant for Chicago’s Sol Property Management. Today, Interviewing Experts talks with Joanna A. van der Vant about her thoughts on preventing fraud in corporations and businesses.
Interviewing Experts: You’ve spoken of the importance of controls in an organizational structure. What exactly do these controls protect against?
Joanna A. van der Vant: In many cases, controls are put in place to avoid unintentional errors made by workers. But in some cases, those errors are through fraud on the part of the employee.
Interviewing Experts: Is it hard to detect fraud when committed internally?
Joanna A. van der Vant: Fraud can be very difficult to detect and, in some cases, the controls can be more costly than the errors themselves.
Interviewing Experts: Isn’t cash the most common type of internal fraud?
Joanna A. van der Vant: It’s certainly the most publicized, but what many people don’t realize is cash theft is actually infinitesimal when compared to other types of fraud.
Interviewing Experts: What are some of the other types of fraud in the business world?
Joanna A. van der Vant: For businesses that provide expense accounts and credit cards for workers, it’s important to have controls in place to monitor fraud in those areas. Receipts can be faked and double reporting of expenses can easily slip through.
Interviewing Experts: What about theft of computer equipment, like laptops and smart phones?
Joanna A. van der Vant: Yes, it’s easy for items to “walk away,” as they say, and this can be especially hard to police. I recommend businesses purchase insurance and closely monitor and inventory all devices regularly.
Interviewing Experts: Office supplies can easily disappear.
Joanna A. van der Vant: Yes, and this can be even harder to monitor. I recommend blocking off supply areas so that only authorized workers can access them.
Interviewing Experts: What about kickbacks and gifts from suppliers?
Joanna A. van der Vant: While it might not seem like a company can lose money on this, if your purchasing department is choosing vendors for personal motives, you may be paying more than you have to for your inventory and supplies. Put policies in place to make it clear to workers your views on this sort of thing.
Interviewing Experts: Do you believe that fraud easier to commit in some companies than others?
Joanna A. van der Vant: Sometimes, yes. For instance, a company that constantly puts pressure on staff for profits can result in falsification of financials. Companies with very high turnover can also pose a problem.
Interviewing Experts: Are controls always the answer?
Joanna A. van der Vant: No. In some instances, the control is simply too expensive compared to the risk of loss. Each CFO must weight this out.
Joanna A. van der Vant is currently pursuing a Master degree from Keller Graduate School of Management. A certified bookkeeper, Joanna A. van der Vant also obtained her MBA from Leon Kozminski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management.